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I'm quite pregnant, and my dear husband claims to be experiencing some of the same symptoms I am. Queasiness, leg and back pains, things like that. I've heard of this happening to other men. What's up with that? Any way I can get him to suffer the pain of contractions at birth time? It seems only fair.

-- Mom and Dad, North Park

It's called couvade syndrome and has been well documented. Sometimes the most sensitive and involved of dads to be will have everything from morning sickness to weight gain, mimicking pregnancy symptoms. But anthropologists can trace couvade back in many cultures as a ritual form of bonding dad and child or of fooling evil spirits to keep them away from mom and child. In some cases, the men take to their beds during the actual birth, writhing in simulated pain, and then are showered with food and flowers while mom resumes her usual drudgery. In others the parents switch clothing at the time of birth in an apparent effort to distract evil. It would seem that putting pants on mom would complicate things, but that's folklore for you.

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